This month’s Book Nook topic is...

Turning Book Reading into a Conversation with
Don’t Push the Button!

Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter

Sharing books with children, and not just reading to them, means using the story to spark a conversation. In fact, it’s through conversations about the book that children can learn the early literacy skills that prepare them to read and write later on. In this Book Nook, we’ll look at how you can turn book reading into a conversation with a child, and what the child can learn about in the process.

Let’s get started!

Why we picked it
We all know how enticing it can be for children to do something they’re not supposed to! In this interactive book, children are welcomed on the first page by a monster named Larry and a giant red button. Larry’s only instruction to readers is, “Don’t push the button!” The book goes on to instruct children to push the button at various times. Doing so transforms Larry in many hilarious ways. The interactive nature of this book, and the many opportunities to push the button and see what happens lend themselves well to incorporating back and forth conversations with a child.
Getting the conversation started
The first step in turning book reading into a conversation is to OWL. This is a Hanen strategy that stands for “Observe, Wait and Listen”. You can OWL with the cover of the book. Read the title, then pause and wait. See if the child makes a comment, points to something or asks a question. This will give you information about what interests the child. Like adults, children will be much more likely to talk about something when it’s related to their interests.

Once you know what has caught the child’s attention, the next step is to Follow the Child’s Lead. This means responding with interest to what the child said or pointed to and making a comment or asking a question about it. For example, if the child asks, “Why can’t we push the button?”, Follow their Lead. You could say, “I don’t know? Maybe pushing the button locks the book so we can’t read it!” Then wait again for the child to reply, and there you have it – the conversation has begun!
Keep the conversation going
Once you have a conversation started about something, you’ll want to keep it going for as long as the child is interested in talking about it. The more back and forth turns the child takes, the more opportunities they’ll have to learn. You can help keep the conversation going by using comments and questions strategically to get the child thinking more deeply. You can make predictions, talk about solving problems and relate the book to the child’s experience.
Make predictions
Making predictions about what might happen is a great way to build back and forth conversation. Try asking the child, “What do you think will happen if you push the button?” Comment on the child’s response and make a prediction yourself. It’s important to pause and wait after making a comment or asking a question. This gives the child the time to process what you’ve said, and to respond with a comment or question of their own.
Talk about solving problems
To build conversation that goes beyond the story, encourage the child to think deeply about a problem that presents itself. Most stories revolve around a problem. Encouraging the child to think about how it could be solved helps their overall understanding of the story. For example, you could say, “Oh no! The monster’s skin is now yellow with polka dots! How can he change back to normal?” Continue the conversation for as long as your child is interested by responding to what they say. Pausing and waiting after you say something will encourage the child to keep talking.
Relate the book to the child’s experiences
Relating what’s happening in the book to a child’s existing knowledge and experiences is a great way to build the child’s understanding of the story and keep the conversation going. You can remind the child of a similar experience they’ve had by saying something like, “It’s so hard to resist pushing this button! Just like when it was hard for you to resist opening your birthday presents right away.” You can also ask a question such as, “Can you think of any other times you had to work hard to resist doing something?” Once the child responds, feel free to share your own experiences then pause again. Watch for how your conversation takes off!

Happy reading!

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